At the Good Samaritan Society, everyone is a someone
The Good Samaritan Society in Socorro is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society on Thursday, Sept. 27. This celebration will include music by the Good Sam Band, a worship service with Reuben Thomas from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, and a barbecue out on the patio, said administrator Ryan Mertz.
Good Samaritan is the largest senior service provider, including seven skilled nursing facilities in New Mexico, within 24 states Mertz said.
He said Good Samaritan started with humble roots when in 1922 the Rev. August “Augie” Hoeger helped a boy named Christian who had polio, and when Christian pastors wrote letters to get Christian treatment, the boy received an overwhelming response. With more than $2,000 that was collected to help Christian, leftover money was enough to purchase a home for children with disabilities and the elderly who could no longer care for themselves, Mertz said.
Christian lived in that home, and since then, the Good Samaritan Society relies on community support, donations, staff and volunteers. Hoeger believes the place is for fellowship, calling it a unique place with generations and history.
“We take the time to talk with them,” Mertz said. “We meet their needs, we take or one or two minutes and have a small conversation.”
Some of the changes the Good Samaritan has seen over the last couple of years include certified nursing assistant classes that are offered two times a year for those interested to become a certified nursing assistant, he said. Certified nursing assistants provide direct care for members.
In previous years, the Good Samaritan Society would have care providers, nurses or assistants, from nursing agencies in Albuquerque and other places who would come in and help. The Good Samaritan Society has also received generous community support and raised over $70,000 to re-do the stucco on the building. They have replaced 54 windows and installed wooden boxes to take water away from the building Mertz said. The Conrad Hilton Foundation awarded the Good Samaritan Society a $25,000 grant for a landscape project, and the center also raised over $10,000 for a landscape designer to make the place more like an oasis with more native plants that are natural to the environment.
In August, Good Samaritan hosted a progressive dinner that started at the Old Town Bistro, then to El Camino for salad and the main entree at Bodega Burger, raising $4,000 for new rooms, he said.
“It’s a rewarding job, and a calling,” Mertz said. “As a calling, there are good and bad days. It’s a blessing to learn from residents and community.”
Good Samaritan takes members to have picnics at the park, field trips to the aquarium in Albuquerque and the Hard Rock Casino. They have a bus and in the summer they can do more outdoor activities, he said. They even check out the fireworks at Tech.
“At Good Samaritan, they make members feel at home because it is what they strive for,” he said. “We do for them whatever they would do in their own home.”
Newly remodeled rooms for members is currently the fundraising focus. The fundraiser for the rooms is the Christmas Gala auction where community organizations come together and decorate a tree and host a nice dinner. The goal is to raise $5,000 dollars, he said. The remodeled rooms at Good Samaritan will have new flooring, new paint, window treatments, senior friendly toilets, sinks, beds, new doors and furniture, including a flat screen television. It will have a complete new look, Mertz said.
“Folks who haven’t stopped by just stop by, young and old. There is a place for them.” Mertz said. “We welcome them to show them what Good Samaritan is.”
Anyone can volunteer, but candidates need to go through a background check and attend an orientation, Mertz said. At the center, they provide members with daily activities seven days a week, including entertainment by the Good Samaritan band every Thursday.
At the Good Samaritan Society members play games such as bingo and Bunco, which is a dice game. They read the newspaper, have movie day with the residents and the staff, Mertz said. They bake twice a week, have Bible readings, read stories and ask volunteers to fold laundry and clean up after meals, he said.
They also have barbecue events where family members are invited.
“If Good Sam wasn’t here, residents would have to go to Albuquerque,” Mertz said. “It’s a fun place and we are a big family. At Founder’s Day, everyone is welcome to come listen to the Good Sam band.”